The Legal 500

Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Work +1 212 558 4000
Fax +1 212 558 3588

John E. Estes

Work +1 212 558 4349
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP


John Estes joined Sullivan & Cromwell in New York in 1995 and became a partner of the Firm in 2002. Mr. Estes focuses his practice on leveraged finance transactions and cross-border financing. Mr. Estes has particular expertise in debt and equity capital markets transactions (SEC-registered and Rule 144A), acquisition finance, both for private equity and strategic, leveraged financings, secured and unsecured credit agreements, including revolvers, ABL and bridges, and high yield financings. His capital markets experience includes a variety of structured debt instruments, hybrid capital, convertibles and preferred stock, initial public offerings, secondary offerings and government privatizations. He has represented issuer and borrower clients in a variety of industries, including mining and oil & gas, telecommunications, financial institutions and industrial, as well as a number of underwriter and lender clients. Mr. Estes also has experience in private mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and natural resource-based project finance. For further information on his practice. please visit S&C's website: 

Latin America: International firms

Banking and finance

Within: Banking and finance

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is best known for top-end project finance, bank regulatory matters and financial institutions M&A. The firm has an especially strong standing in mining-sector project finance and has a fine record in complex oil and gas and infrastructure financings. The core Latin America team members operate primarily as transactional generalists who link up with specialist colleagues on issues such as crisis management, corruption investigations and litigation work; this ensures sophisticated specialist expertise in higher risk transactions and in finding solutions to especially challenging situations. In 2017, the practice advised Fiduciaria Bancolombia (as trustee of Fideicomiso Concesión Ruta Al Mar), on its $178m project bond offering to finance the construction and improvement of a toll road that will connect Antioquía and Bolivar, the two major economic centres of Colombia. Led by Ari Blaut, the team also advised AT&T, as guarantor, on an inaugural Mexican-peso facility (a two-year unsecured delayed draw term loan facility) to subsidiaries AT&T Comunicaciones Digitales and AT&T Telecom Holding. Head of the Latin America practice Sergio Galvis is a big name in the region, having the experience and versatility to advise on highly-challenging and transformational transactions. Seasoned figure Christopher Mann is ‘calm’, ‘a person of good will’ who is ‘willing to take a fresh look at the transaction’ where necessary; he has an especially strong record in project finance. Washington DC partner Robert Risoleo is also recommended for project finance, including transactions with a capital markets component. John Estes is a prominent leveraged-finance specialist who has considerable experience in Latin America, while Washington DC partner Dennis Sullivan is noted for structured finance transactions. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

[back to top]

Projects and energy

Within: Projects and energy

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is ‘a fixture in the mining and oil and gas scene’, primarily for sponsors. It is also noted for complex and big-ticket infrastructure projects. The firm has operated at the forefront of Latin America project finance for decades and is typically engaged in a relatively small number of top-strata transactions. It is ‘the best in the business’, with a team that is ‘strong and deep’ and ‘extremely good at giving business focused advice that addresses the key issues and focuses on problem solving’; one client says its ‘knowledge of Latin America mining is unparalleled’. The firm does indeed have a significant market share of mining projects in Latin America, especially on the sponsor side, and with the recovery of commodity prices, it is experiencing higher levels of activity in the sector. In addition, it has advised on a series of bulge-bracket acquisitions in the energy sector, including a number by Chinese investors. It continued to represent State Grid International Development on its acquisition of a 95% interest Brazil’s largest privately-owned electric energy generation and distribution group, CPFL Energia. It also advised Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) on a series of transactions, including its acquisition of a majority stake in Transportadora de Gas del Perú. Head of the Latin America practice Sergio Galvis is ‘the leading mining lawyer in Latin America by a long margin’, according to one client who says he is ‘smart, calm, insightful and a pleasure to work with’. Christopher Mann, who heads the firm’s global infrastructure practice, also impresses in infrastructure, power, energy, mining and natural resources. John Estes is noted for mining sector transactions and Werner Ahlers has worked on a series of M&A deals involving energy assets. All partners are based in New York.

[back to top]

United States: Finance

Capital markets: high-yield debt offerings

Within: Capital markets: high-yield debt offerings

Among the best in this area’, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP receives strong praise for its ‘strong technical expertise’ and ‘ability to explain complex concepts well’. The practice, which focuses principally on issuer-side representations, acts for several notable repeat corporate issuers in the high-yield market, including Dish Network and United Rentals. Key contact Robert Downes, who co-heads the general practice group, is ‘unflappable and creative’ and advised Standard Industries on its $500m offering of senior high-yield notes. Ari Blaut - ‘an extremely impressive younger partner’ - had a very strong year, which included assisting Andeavor with its $1.6bn offering of high-yield notes to finance its acquisition of Western Refining. In another set of headline deals, Neal McKnight, who co-heads the firm’s finance and restructuring department, and Downes advised United Rentals on three high-yield offerings totaling $2.1bn. John Estes and Scott Miller are also key names in the largely New York-based team.

[back to top]

Commercial lending

Within: Commercial lending

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP has an excellent track record for borrower work, particularly for corporate clients who take up about 70% of the team’s workload. The practice can regularly be found on some of the largest corporate deals to hit the market. Notably it acted as finance counsel for Gartner in the $3.9bn financing for its acquisition of CEB, a deal which involved several different debt instruments including an $800m bond offering. Another highlight was representing INC Research Holdings in a $3.1bn loan to finance its acquisition of inVentive Health. The firm was also active on the private equity front and represented Ares Management on the $680m financing required for its acquisition of a 70% stake in healthcare company DMG Practice Management Solutions. The highly rated John Estes and S. Neal McKnight jointly lead the team, which also includes the well-regarded Ari Blaut.

[back to top]

Project finance

Within: Project finance

Overall service is excellent’ at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP where the New York-based team is ‘uniformly strong in intellect, negotiating, deal management, associate management and business judgement, as well as being pleasant people to deal with.’ The practice is particularly recommended for its work in the mining sector, where recent mandates include Sergio Galvis and Inosi Nyatta providing ongoing advice to Sierra Gorda on the finance for the Sierra Gorda copper-molybdenum project in Chile; and Galvis and Christopher Mann assisting sponsors with various copper mining projects in Peru. Another strength is the LNG sector; Nyatta and John Estes handled a number of billion-dollar mandates for Cheniere Energy concerning the Cheniere Corpus Christi LNG export facility, including a $1.5bn offering in senior notes. On the infrastructure side, Mann was active on investment work in the US and overseas, and in one key deal he advised Pocahontas Parkway and Macquarie on the $600m sale of the Pocahontas Parkway in Virginia to Globalvia.

[back to top]

United States: Industry focus

Energy transactions: oil and gas

Within: Energy transactions: oil and gas

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s New York office is regularly engaged on ‘board level’ international and domestic M&A and financings for midstream and downstream operators such as Tesoro and Transportadora de Gas. Recent work includes Joseph Frumkin and George Sampas advising Enbridge on its $43bn merger with Spectra Energy, and Inosi Nyatta and John Estes acting for Cheniere Energy on various billion-dollar bond offerings. Werner Ahlers and Christopher Mann were highly active for key client Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

[back to top]

Back to index

Legal Developments worldwide

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to